Statement of Purpose for Graduate School
Criteria for success.
- qualified for their program, and
- a good fit for their program’s focus and goals.
- You show a select group of skills and experiences that concisely convey your scientific accomplishments and interests.
- Your experiences are concrete and quantitative .
- Your personal statement is no more than 2 pages (less if you can, or if it is required by the school).
The graduate school Personal Statement (≈ Statement of Purpose ≈ Statement of Intent) is a document that complements your resume and application form, describing your profile in a narrative way and convincing the admission committee that you would be a good match for a particular department or program. Take into account that matching goes both ways: they should be interested in you, and you should be interested in them. Your personal statement should make this match clear.
Analyze Your Audience
Your personal statement will be read by a graduate committee – a handful of faculty from the program. They’re trying to determine if you will be a successful graduate student in their department and a successful scientist after you graduate. They are interested in your qualifications as a researcher, your career goals, and how your personality matches their labs and department.
The graduate committee probably reads hundreds of applications every year. To make it easy for them to figure out that you are a good fit, keep in mind the following suggestions:
- Make direct, concrete statements about your accomplishments and qualifications.
- Create a narrative that serves as a personal brand and helps them remember you.
- Give them some unique examples that describe you and make you stand out, and which will make them remember you as “that candidate that was so passionate about…” or “who has a lot of experience in…”, although they might not remember your name.
- Align your academic goals and motivations with specific research projects or research directions of the target department.
Assessing your match to the target program
A key point on writing your Personal Statement is to demonstrate that you have done previous research about the program to which you’re applying, that you understand its characteristics and objectives, and that you are really interested in joining it and willing to do your best to be successful in it. To do this:
- Read the program’s website. Learn about its faculty members and the projects they are working on. Check what topics and high level goals the department is committed to. Identify the main research areas.
- Get in contact with faculty and students in your target program. Browse recent publications and presentations but remember lab websites can be outdated and a publication may lag a few years behind the active research in a lab so pay attention to the motivation, direction, and methods of the faculty member over specific results. If you have had a positive discussion with someone at the department, you can include in your essay how those interactions confirmed that you would be a good match for the program.
Reflect before you start
To convince a graduate committee that you are ready for and excited about graduate school, first you need to be able to articulate this to yourself. Earnestly reflect on the following types of questions. A lack of authenticity is easy to detect.
- Why do I want to go to graduate school?
- How am I sure?
- Why will I be successful in graduate school?
- What can I do with the help of this degree that I couldn’t do before?
- Where do I want to be in a few years?
- How am I going to get there?
Create a personal narrative
Graduate programs invest in the professional and scientific growth of their students. Get the committee excited about investing in you by opening your essay with a brief portrait of what drives you as a scientist. What research directions are you passionate about, and why? What do you picture yourself doing in 10 years?
- E.g. “Graduate study is the first step towards my goal: I want to improve my ability as a researcher and gain more technical depth and breadth to maximize my impact. In the long term, I hope graduate school will better position me to be a leader in shaping the conversation about what problems can be addressed by mechanical engineers.”
Close your essay with a 2-3 sentence discussion of your long-term career interests. No one will hold you to this; this just helps your committee visualize your potential trajectory.
- E.g. “Above all else, a MIT PhD would help me achieve my long term career goal of becoming a professor, the position in which I can best see myself accomplishing my mission to show others the hidden beauty in everyday life through science.”
Connect your personal narrative to whichever degree you are applying to (be it research-based or course-work-based, or a Master of Science, Master of Engineering, or PhD). Especially in mechanical engineering, each of these degrees will enable different career trajectories and provide different educational opportunities. Articulate clearly why the degree you are applying for helps you achieve your goals. In the same vein, consider mutual benefit: what will you contribute to the academic community over your time at your target school? Remember, it all comes back to “qualified match” , no matter what level of degree you are applying for.
Describe your experiences
Experiences are the “what” of your essay. They are the most efficient and easiest way to prove your capabilities to the admissions committee.
- What experiences led you to develop your skill set and passions ?
- Where have you demonstrated accomplishment, leadership, and collaboration?
- Show your depth with a range of experiences: research, teaching, relevant extracurriculars and leadership positions.
- State concrete achievements and outcomes like awards, discoveries, or publications, or projects completed.
Achievements need not be limited to research projects or publications. Think about all the experiences that demonstrate your ability to conduct research and succeed within the structure of your target program. (Where have you demonstrated creativity? Self sufficiency? Perseverance? What open ended problems have you tackled? What enabled you to succeed at them?)
Quantify your experiences to show concrete impact. How many people were on your team? How many protocols did you develop? How many people were in competition for an award? As a TA, how often did you meet with your students?
For each experience you include, focus on how the experience affected you. Describe your actions, and always direct the message to highlighting your performance and growth (not how important the company was or how well-known the professor you TAed for is). Remember, it is not an essay about science, it is a personal essay—about you and how you have positioned yourself to succeed in graduate school.
Explain the meaning of your experiences
Your goal in sharing your experiences is to demonstrate that you have the qualifications, qualities, and drive needed to succeed in graduate school. Therefore, you will need to not only choose experiences wisely but also state specifically what they mean within the context of your application.
- Why was this experience important to your growth as a scientist?
- What did you gain from or demonstrate during that experience?
- How will this make you a better grad student?
Even if it feels obvious to you, you need to explicitly answer these questions to your audience. Here are some examples experiences that have been expanded to contain meaning:
Contemplate how disparate activities can be unified into a common narrative about your motivations and achievements. Articulate this clearly to make your statement cohesive.
Demonstrate your match to the target program
Using the research you did to assess your chosen programs, clearly articulate why you are a match . Consider both directions of the match: not only why you want to go to the school, but also why you would fit in well and contribute to the program.
State which professors in the program you would be interested in working with. Demonstrate that you have done your homework regarding the program. Show how their research areas align with your background and your goals. If you have had conversations with students or professors in the program, be sure to include that as well.
Write about you , not your role models. One of the most common pitfalls we see in the Comm Lab is students writing touching Personal Statements about family members or role models who have inspired them. There is nothing wrong with including personal stories about people who have helped you understand yourself better, or positioned you to succeed in graduate school, but it is important to tread very carefully. Don’t leave the reader wondering why they are reading about someone else in a document that is meant to be about you. If you take time to talk about someone who positively affected you, make sure to be very clear about how that experience with that person molded you into a strong graduate school candidate.
Be judicious with childhood stories. A brief mention of some childhood experience that shaped your interests in STEM is probably okay, but if you talk about it at length (more than ~2 sentences), you are taking up space that should probably be used to talk about who you are today, not who you were over a decade ago.
Don’t simply restate your resume. Your Personal Statement should be a technical document (having evidence, numbers, and supporting facts) with personal outcomes (talking about your motivations, ambitions, and ability to succeed as a graduate student). Of course, you will reiterate parts of your resume in your Personal Statement , but what uniquely makes it a “Personal Statement” is the discussion of how those professional experiences affected you , as a researcher and person well-suited to the graduate program at X University.
Insufficient quantification of your experiences. We are all scientists and engineers; our line of work is inherently quantitative. Quantification is a quick and easy way to add context, lend credence to your experiences, and impress the reader. Even little quantifications can help: “I spent two semesters working on a project about…” is much better than “I spent some time working on a project about…”. See more examples in the section on Experiences, above.
Being a great student and having an impressive resume is only half the battle when it comes to graduate school applications. You need to be able to communicate and convince the committee that your personality and particular set of skills and experiences are well-suited to the graduate program you are applying for. This extends beyond graduate school applications: as scientists and engineers, we write papers and technical reports to communicate with our peers and convince them that our work is meaningful.
By reading this article, you have recognized the value of communication and are well on your way to crafting an effective and powerful Personal Statement. This is your opportunity to make yourself shine among all the other candidates, so make it count! You can do it!
Acknowledgements : This content was adapted from the NSE and CEE Communication Labs’ CommKits for graduate applications.
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Mechanical Engineering Personal Statement Example 30
I remember my first experience of engineering was when I was quite young. In year 2, a couple of students and I were taken to complete a project where we had to build a small cart out of household items and we competed against schools in our local area to see how far our cars could travel down a ramp. However, we didn’t do very well. Obviously, the reasoning was far above my understanding at the time but experiences like that established an inquisitiveness for the way the world works especially regarding engineering.
My interest in engineering and computer science has determined my choices at A Level as Maths, Further Maths, Physics. I also study Music as it’s one of my passions and am about to complete my Grade 8 Piano. I love problem solving; it is what engineering is all about. To develop my problem solving skills, I started attending further physics sessions in Year 12. Using Isaac Physics, we worked through higher level questions including mechanics. Motivated by these sessions, I asked my teachers to recommend some resources that provided a greater challenge and my physics teacher brought out a book called “Professor Povey's Perplexing Problems''. This has provided a great insight into the world of physics in general. Since joining The Royal Latin, I have also been selected to take part in UKMT Maths Challenges and British Physics Olympiads and receive bronze and silver awards regularly. I particularly enjoy these because they encourage thinking outside the box and develop problem-solving; they are part of the reason why I wanted to study A level Further Maths.
During Sixth Form, I put myself forward to join [Insert Sixth Form]’s student leadership team. Following a very rigorous and thorough interview process, I was selected to be deputy head boy. This role has enabled me to work with younger students, parents and staff. During the year I have developed my time management and organisational skills enabling me to balance my academic studies with this added responsibility. Taking parents and prospective students on tours of the school has developed my communication skills further and I’m very proud to be representing my school in this way.
I have taken the opportunity to complete my DofE Gold award whilst at school. I am a keen sportsman and enjoy sports such as swimming and cycling. For the service part of the award, I am a volunteer coach at my swimming club. Working with other coaches and talking to swimmers has definitely improved my communication, confidence and teamwork skills. Another one of my hobbies is computing. During Summer 2021, I applied for the CS50: Introduction to Computer Science course that is led by Harvard University on edX. While also studying C, Python and computing fundamentals, this course offered me an insight into how lectures and homework assignments are like at a university and gave me a chance to establish independent learning skills.
I took the initiative to arrange work experience with a company called EM Motorsport for a week. In this role, I helped to build the control panels for the Bahrain Grand Prix that year. This involved soldering wires to boards, building the control panel itself and briefly looking at the code. I particularly enjoyed the week as I’m interested in Formula 1 and the inner workings of cars. I’d also love to be a part of a Formula Student team and build and design cars . I enjoy watching videos on the topic and I am subscribed to channels such as Engineering Explained. Road cycling has played a big part in my interest in engineering and in particular the mechanical workings and aerodynamic saving. I enjoy researching newer technologies that are being developed such as the effort to decrease rolling resistance in tires, testing the sweet spots between aerodynamic design and low weight for hills. Therefore a degree in engineering or computer science will provide a good foundation for this and I relish the opportunity of studying for it at university.
There is no profile associated with this personal statement, as the writer has requested to remain anonymous.
I decided to apply to Cambridge pretty late (like 2 weeks before the deadline) so I can't imagine it's the best personal statement I could've produced but I'm still pretty happy with it. I was never good with writing but it does the job I think. If I could redo it, I'd probably include some more academic content and try to come up with a less cringy/cliche introduction. Not too hopeful about Cambridge (especially with the ENGAA lmao) but it doesn't hurt to try ig. Happy to answer any Qs! 3977 characters with spaces, 667 words.
Applying to: Southampton Bath Loughborough Cambridge Warwick (but for Computer Science)
This personal statement is unrated
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- Mechanical Engineering Personal Statement Examples
Find three examples of Mechanical Engineering personal statements that you can use as inspiration when writing your own.
These Mechanical Engineering personal statement examples will provide you with insight into what makes a great statement and how to make your UCAS application better.
Whether you’re a secondary school student applying to a mechanical engineering programme or a postgraduate applicant, we hope these examples will help you write a good personal statement that showcases your skills and passion for the field.
Mechanical Engineering Personal Statement Example
As a child, I always had an insatiable curiosity about how things worked. I would spend hours taking apart household items, trying to decipher the mechanics behind them. This early fascination with the inner workings of machines has continued to shape my academic pursuits and my personal interests.
Currently studying mathematics and physics, I am constantly intrigued by how these subjects can be used to solve real-life problems. The theoretical aspects of these subjects certainly interest me, but it is their practical applications that truly capture my attention. I am particularly drawn to the field of mechanical engineering, as it allows me to apply my problem-solving skills to real-world situations and phenomena.
My love for mechanics began at a young age, as I dismantled household goods in an attempt to understand how they worked. As I grew older, I became involved in repairing mini motorbikes, which I eventually became bored with due to their simplicity. Seeking out more complicated challenges, I began designing and building a large-scale, remote-controlled quad bike with a 49cc engine. This project has been a complex and highly rewarding challenge, allowing me to develop my practical design and engineering skills.
In recent years, my interest in mechanical engineering has matured into a desire to pursue it as a career. Reading books such as ‘Invention by Design: How Engineers Get from Thought to Thing’ and ‘The New Science of Strong Materials: Or Why You Don’t Fall Through the Floor’ has given me an insight into the challenges faced by engineers when they design everyday objects. I am now committed to completing a degree in mechanical engineering and following a career in the field.
I am a resourceful and enterprising person who relishes a challenge, and these aspects of my character have been honed through my involvement in mechanical engineering and my part-time online business. Running a business has taught me to deal with problems and work efficiently and independently, skills that will undoubtedly serve me well in my future career.
In addition to my passion for mechanics, I enjoy designing and programming remote-controlled models, going open-water scuba-diving, mountain biking, and flying 3D aerobatics with a model helicopter. These pursuits reflect my love for creativity, adventure, and innovation.
I believe that my passion for mechanics and engineering, coupled with my strong work ethic and creative mindset, make me an ideal candidate for a degree in mechanical engineering. I am excited about the opportunity to further develop my skills and knowledge in this field and to contribute to the innovative and dynamic world of engineering.
Recommended for reading:
- The Best Cambridge Colleges for Engineering
- The Best Oxford Colleges for Engineering
Best Mechanical Engineering Personal Statement Example
I was fascinated with building things and watching engineering shows on TV. From there, I chose A-Level subjects that would equip me with the necessary skills to pursue a degree in engineering. With interests spanning from biology to philosophy, and from art to technology, I saw engineering as a discipline that could satisfy and further develop my interests.
During my A-Levels, I studied Maths and Physics, which helped me to refine my problem-solving skills while increasing my theoretical knowledge. I am particularly interested in how maths reveals parallels between separate branches of physics. This has further solidified my decision to pursue a degree in Mechanical Engineering .
My first experience with engineering work was during a Christmas holiday, when I worked in a cycle shop, dealing with assembly, maintenance, and repair. This whetted my appetite for more. Every weekend since November 2003, I have worked in the warehouse at a Comet store, where one of my responsibilities is to deal with returned products. Working with faulty electrical goods has shown me first-hand the opportunities for improvement that exist across the field.
After finishing my GCSEs, I participated in a 12-week training placement at Chromogenex, a local medical engineering firm. I was fascinated by the experience and accepted an offer of employment with the company until I started college. My work at Chromogenex was varied, including production and service, and I was given significant quality control duties. One of my most interesting responsibilities was to write the Work Instructions and Procedures that production and service engineers will refer to as guidance to ensure that all products are of the highest standard.
In October 2008, I took a week’s work placement at Rhos Designs, a design engineering firm whose main client is 3M. I enjoyed the CAD work and the chance to take part in real projects, which will soon be put to use at 3M’s various sites across Britain.
One of my favourite hobbies is using CAD for my projects, which recently included drawing up a design for a competition in which I participated. The competition involved planning and designing a homemade potato launcher within a tight budget and deadline. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and am already working on my next design!
In 2007, I was part of a four-person team working on a project on the EESW scheme run by the Royal Academy of Engineering. The project was an exciting task set by Corus at Trostre Tinplate Works. We were asked to design and build a solution to the problem of split edges in the cold rolling line. Our solution was effective and economical, and if adopted by Corus, could save the company thousands of pounds per hour, as the line would no longer need to be stopped to carry out emergency repairs. We designed and built a prototype solution, and a mock-up of Trostre’s SCADA system to demonstrate the solution’s potential. Our project received a prize for ‘Most effective use of IT’ at the Welsh National Convention of Excellence in Engineering.
Before starting my degree course, I intend to enrol in the YinI scheme, which should give me an in-depth experience of engineering work and help ground my subsequent studies.
Personal Statement for Mechanical Engineering
Mechanical engineering has always been my dream career, and my experiences have only further cemented my desire to pursue this field. I have always been fascinated by the intricacies of machines, and how seemingly simple components can come together to create complex systems. My passion for cars has been a driving force behind my academic pursuits and professional experiences, and I am eager to take this passion to the next level by studying mechanical engineering at university.
Throughout my A Levels in Mathematics, Physics, and Chemistry, I was consistently drawn to the areas of study that related to mechanics. I was particularly interested in how mathematical concepts could be applied to real-world problems, and how physics principles could be used to explain the behaviour of machines. I found that my love of cars provided me with a unique perspective on these subjects, as I was able to see firsthand how these principles were applied in the automotive industry.
My work experience in mechanical engineering has further solidified my desire to pursue this field. During my placement at a contractor’s sister company, I was exposed to the world of mechanical maintenance and discovered the possibilities of a career in engineering. I was able to witness firsthand how skilled technicians were able to diagnose and repair complex machinery, and I was inspired by their dedication to their craft. My subsequent work placement at a car maintenance company was equally rewarding, as I was able to observe and assist in the basic engineering of cars. This experience gave me a deeper understanding of the inner workings of machines and reinforced my passion for mechanical engineering.
As I prepare to embark on my university studies, I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. I am eager to explore new areas of mechanical engineering and gain a deeper understanding of the fundamental principles that underlie the machines that we use every day. I am particularly interested in the areas of materials science and robotics, and I look forward to learning about how these fields are shaping the future of mechanical engineering.
In addition to my academic pursuits, I am committed to being an active member of the engineering community. I am excited to join engineering clubs and organizations on campus and to participate in hands-on projects that allow me to apply the skills and knowledge that I will acquire in my coursework. I am also eager to contribute to the field of mechanical engineering through research and innovation, and I hope to one day make meaningful contributions to the industry.
In summary, my love of cars and science has led me to pursue a career in mechanical engineering. My academic and professional experiences have prepared me well for the challenges that lie ahead, and I am excited about the opportunities that studying mechanical engineering at university will provide. I am committed to being an active member of the engineering community, and I am eager to make meaningful contributions to the field of mechanical engineering in the years to come.
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